Few video game franchises of the late ’90s and early 2000s are held in as high esteem as the Thief series, which revolutionized the fantasy genre within the medium with a detailed, morally-ambiguous universe and effectively (along with Metal Gear Solid, both games launching in 1998) wrote the rulebook for the 3D stealth genre; offering players the challenge of avoiding combat and discovery while moving through shadows, exploiting light sources and paying careful attention to the effect of sound – both their own, and of their surroundings.
How would this highly-immersive, interactive experience translate to narrative film? We’re about to find out: Straight Up Films and sought-after producers Adrian Askarieh and Roy Lee are teaming up for a movie based on the Thief video game series.
A major influence on subsequent titles like Assassin’s Creed (also on track for a feature film later this year), Thief takes place in a dark fantasy world largely within the confines of a city with a pervading Medieval/steampunk aesthetic. The games typically cast the player in the role of a master thief (hence the title) tasked with carrying out burglaries and other missions requiring his skill by members of the various sects and clans vying for control within the city; including an ancient order of secretive observers (“The Keepers”), a pair of feuding technocratic religious sects (“The Hammerites” and “The Mechanists”), and a woodland-dwelling commune of supernatural/mythological anarchists called “Pagans”.
There have, to date, been four main games in the series: Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age, Thief: Deadly Shadows and a decade-later revival simply titled Thief, which debuted in 2014 to a mixed reception from the franchise’s longtime fans. There’s no indication whether the film will follow the continuity of any individual title or chart an entirely new course based on the basic setup of the games, though it seems mostly likely that at least the base outline of the franchise (a master-thief named Garrett plying his trade in a dark urban fantasy setting) will be preserved to one degree or another.
Straight Up is previously best known for producing the Johnny Depp vehicle Transcendence. The screenplay is set to be written by Adam Mason and Simon Boyes, with Straight Up’s Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen, who said of the project:
“This popular game is entirely unique within the genre, which is why we’re particularly excited to be working with these canny, dedicated filmmakers to bring it to the screen.”
Originally breaking out as a driving force in the proliferation of American remakes of Asian horror films like The Ring and The Grudge (soon to be revived in an upcoming crossover movie); Roy Lee has become a prolific genre-film producer with an eye for properties with under-explored growth potential. His credits as producer include The Departed, How to Train Your Dragon, Oldboy, Godzilla, The LEGO Movie and the recent horror film The Boy. Along with producing duties on Thief, he’s attached to two other video game properties in Five Nights At Freddy’s and The Minecraft Movie, along with a reboot of Dungeons & Dragons and a feature version of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more developments on Thief and other upcoming movie projects.